By Tom Kemboi
January 15, 2019 - Conservation International's Vital Signs team participated in a 4-day workshop in Naivasha convened by Kenya's Ministry of Environment and Forestry Land Use Land Cover Element Working Group. The meeting was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment Mr. Ali Noor Ismal CBS. The main purpose of the workshop was to finalize on the technical manual, a document critical in guiding the development of land use land cover maps for Kenya. In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary reiterated government's commitment and the need for the world to actively combat the effect of climate change. This could only be possible if accurate, spatially explicit, timely and reliable data can be used to help in decision making. He further noted that most of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions emanate from land use and change sector - forest and agriculture. The land cover maps are an integral part of the necessary data that forms a foundation upon which every policy linked to life on land emanates.
The maps generated will be used to compute activity data (change statistics) which will later be used for National Communication by the Climate Change Directorate (CCD) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This directly links to GEF funded Conservation International's Vital Signs Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) project which seeks to enhance the capacity of countries (Kenya) to transparently report on climate change. The data obtained from land use land cover changes will be included in the Greenhouse Gas Registry and the Measuring Reporting Verification system. Vital Signs is also implementing two more CBIT projects in Uganda and Rwanda.
The technical manual will not only guide the current (System for Land based Emissions Estimation in Kenya - SLEEK) program but also any other national land use land cover development. This is critical for Vital Signs in implementing its Food Security-Integrated Approach Pilot program in 12 countries including Kenya. Vital Signs is responsible for implementing Component 3 of the IAP Food Security Project on Monitoring and Assessment. Part of the task is to generate spatially explicit maps at high resolutions as baseline for the countries under the program. This will inform the participating country projects about the status of their land use land cover and the associated changes over time. Additionally, the maps will be used to monitor and assess the issues of importance such as degraded areas, areas that need immediate restorative interventions, rehabilitation initiatives among others.
Participants were drawn from government departments including Kenya Forest Service, Directorate of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing, Survey of Kenya, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Conservation International, local universities and other NGOs.
Vital Signs will continue to provide relevant tools, training and assistance for meeting the provisions stipulated in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement and strengthen national institutions for transparency-related activities in line with national priorities.